Warning: Whoa, there! Watch the season premiere of Speechless first if you don’t want any spoilers. Trust me.
Usually new shows are a hit and miss, but the premiere of Speechless is something you wouldn’t want to miss. The series premiere alone hit home for me on so many levels. As one who grew up with a sibling who has speech development issues, I saw my brother move from school to school. It was a shared experience that I still take with me and remember so vividly. But much like J.J. in the show, he remained positive, made new friends easily and didn’t let his speech development define who he is as a person. With my family by his side, it was interesting to watch this all unfold throughout the years. Though my situation isn’t a direct side-by-side account of what happens on the show, I still found it entertaining and relatable, nonetheless.
Speechless centers around a family of five, who has a son named J.J. living with cerebral palsy. Faced with new challenges such as starting a new school, living in a new home and much more, the DiMeo clan always stick together and look at the brighter side of things. Learning to adjust to their new surroundings while paying mind to J.J.’s needs, the show is light-hearted, fun and has a lot of charm. Speechless does a great job at bringing together humor while discussing, in a tasteful manner, serious topics.
In the season premiere, the family moves to an upscale school district, and it’s quickly revealed that the community haven’t had much knowledge or exposure to the disabled community. J.J. just wanted to be one of the cool kids and get treated like everyone else. But as J.J. gets a standing ovation and an immediate class presidential nomination from his classmates, his rise to popularity takes him by surprise. I quickly embraced the way J.J.’s character is portrayed on the show because he owns who he is and doesn’t let his cerebral palsy define him. The positive energy of show has quickly won me over.
But another character that I enjoyed due to her sass and strong willed determination is Maya DiMeo, played by Minnie Driver. Maya immediately steals the show during a good portion of the episode. Given her tenacious personality and love for her family, she’ll do anything for them such as speak her mind when it comes to having the proper wheelchair ramps for her son. When she finds out that her son has to use the same ramp in the back of the school that is used to take out the trash, she is livid.
The people vs. trash debate packed in a lot of heat with the fast, spit fire dialogue showing that ABC isn’t afraid to talk about the topic of disability head on. Speechless finds a happy medium when handling the sensitive topic as to how the disabled community is portrayed in the media.
Overall, Speechless did a really good job at portraying the special needs community in an accurate, tasteful light that wasn’t condescending. The series premiere packs in a lot of information and introduces a ton of leading and supporting characters who add to the overall tone of the show. Even though the show did pack a lot, some pieces of information and plot points left us asking questions and wondering how it’ll unfold in the rest of the season. But the cast has great chemistry together despite being quite a unique bunch of actors and actresses. This show revived my love for comedy and gives Fall TV season a breath of fresh air.